William Crocket, a son of a stone wall builder, received his early education in Brechin, Scotland, before attending King’s College, Aberdeen, at the tender age of sixteen. He balanced his academic pursuits with teaching stints close to his family home. In 1853, he enrolled in a two-year teacher training program at the Established Church Normal Seminary in Glasgow. He fulfilled the program’s requirements over two separate one-year terms, with a year of teaching near his home in between.
Crocket arrived in New Brunswick in 1856, taking up the position of principal at the superior school in Campbellton. He carried with him glowing references from the Glasgow Normal School and those acquainted with his teaching work. After a successful five-year tenure at Campbellton, during which he cemented his reputation as an exceptional educator, he was headhunted in 1861 to serve as rector or principal of the newly established Presbyterian Academy in Chatham. The Highland Society funded the construction and outfitting of the academy, which quickly earned the respect of provincial authorities.
Crocket had a significant impact on the academy, so much so that it was selected to run a teacher training program to meet the increased demand for certified teachers in northern New Brunswick. The first batch of candidates was admitted in 1867, and over the subsequent three years, the program certified 135 teachers. Later, Crocket held the position of principal at the Provincial Normal School and became the head of teacher training for New Brunswick.
Crocket and his wife, Marion Caldwell, had a large family of eight sons and three daughters. Several of these children, who were born in Chatham, went on to have illustrious careers themselves. Dr. Crocket commissioned architect G. Ernest Fairweather from Saint John to design a family home at 171 Church Street in Fredericton. The family resided there until the early 1940s. In 1944, the Provincial Government rented the house to provide office space for new ministries. Among the house’s interior features is one of the city’s most remarkable stained glass windows, which showcases a “summer” scene complete with a maiden and her cherubic companions.
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